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Three Recent Alumni Awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Three recent Colorado College alumni, Keith Fritschie ’11, Rachel Wheat ’09, and Jacob Morgan ’08, have been awarded National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships. This highly prestigious fellowship recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines.

Three recent Colorado College alumni, Keith Fritschie ’11, Rachel Wheat ’09, and Jacob Morgan ’08, have been awarded National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships. This highly prestigious fellowship recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines.

  • Keith Fritschie ’11, who graduated cum laude with a degree in Environmental Science, is earning a master’s degree from the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington, where he works in the Freshwater Ecology and Conservation Lab. His research focuses on how shifts in fish communities are changing the way nutrients cycle through streams.
    Fritschie’s research focuses on the desert Southwest, particularly the Verde River system of central Arizona, where he combines experiments with endangered species in a hatchery, fish community manipulations in the field, and species distribution modeling in the lab. Read more here.

  • Rachel Wheat ’09 graduated magna cum laude with a degree in biology, and currently is a Ph.D. candidate in the Environmental Studies department at the University of California-Santa Cruz. Her Ph.D. research focuses on the direct and indirect impacts of Pacific salmon availability on terrestrial wildlife, particularly fish predators such as bald eagles and brown bears. She and another UCSC graduate student were among the first to try crowdfunding to generate funds to support a pilot study for their research.
    Wheat’s primary research project examines how salmon availability influences the migratory and foraging behavior of bald eagles across multiple spatial scales. She hopes to work as a field ecologist, perhaps conducting research for a government agency such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or for an NGO Read more here.

  • Jacob (Jake) Morgan ’08 majored in neuroscience at CC and currently is a first-year biophysics graduate student at the University of Virginia, where he is studying the molecular mechanism by which cellulose synthesis in bacteria is regulated.
    “Cellulose is typically recognized in the context of plants, but many bacteria actually make and secrete cellulose in order to stabilize biofilms, multicellular aggregates that they form in order to attach to surfaces and protect themselves from threats such as antibiotics and our immune system. Complications due to the establishment of bacterial biofilms in the lungs is a major cause of mortality for cystic fibrosis patients. In my lab at UVA, we used X-ray diffraction to determine the atomic structure of the enzyme responsible for synthesizing cellulose in bacteria,” Morgan says. The work was recently published in Nature. Read more here.

The National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships support graduate students pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. The NSF received more than 13,000 applications for the 2013 competition, and awarded 2,000 fellowships.